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Can Food Dyes Cause Or Affect ADHD?

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MIAMI (CBS4) – Color dye is now being investigated by the Food and Drug Administration to see if certain colors added to enhance the look of the foods your kids love to eat will affect their behavior in the end.

Ivana Feldmeier’s eight year old son Frederich has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

He was diagnosed in 2010 after Feldmeier noticed he was having problems in school.

“I had concern cause he wasn’t improving in his learning.”

She brought him to psychiatrist Dr. Daniel Bober and learned the foods her son was eating could be making his condition worse.

“We know that certain chemicals that are synthetic, whether they’re dyes or whether they’re things in the environment, can sometimes cause behavioral symptoms. And a lot of the research shows recently that these food dyes may be exacerbating or producing ADHD symptoms,” said Dr. Bober.

The dyes of concern are Red 40, Yellow 5 and Yellow 6.  You can find it in some macaroni and cheese products, Doritos, Goldfish crackers, M&Ms, Kool-Aid, fruit punch, bubble gums and the list goes on.  Researchers say the yellow dyes deplete zinc levels enough in some kids to cause hyperactivity.  The Red 40 may lead to temper tantrums, aggressive behavior, fidgeting, anxiety, and inability to concentrate. Nausea and headaches are also common.

In Europe, foods with synthetic dyes carry a warning label.  That tactic is not used in the U.S., but is currently being researched.

The FDA took a hard look at this last spring.  They did say food dye could affect kids like Fredereich who already have ADHD, but they decided not to put warning labels on food because the topic still needs more research.

“I am telling them my patients that they should be aware that this data is out there and that food dyes may be exacerbating ADHD symptoms. Before they put their kids on drugs that they may want to consider a restriction diet and eliminate these food dyes to see if the symptoms could be treated that way before using medication,” said Bober.

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